University of Texas at El Paso
Community is a broad definition that can be used in a large spectrum. According to Fellin, a community occurs when people come together around a common physical location, interests, cultures, and other identities. (Netting, Kettner, Mcmurtry & Thomas, 2011) As a social worker we are taught, “to enhance human wellbeing and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. “ (NASW) In the community in which Teambuilders Counseling Services (TBCS) operates, there is a specific population that is surfacing that TBCS is beginning to recognize a specific need for, and that population is undocumented immigrants. Because of the geographical location of the population being serviced, is in the border region there is a large group of individuals that are in need and require services that are provided by TBCS. But because so many in the community are undocumented, they do not qualify for the needed services because of their legal documentation and inability to receive health coverage through programs like Medicaid. Teambuilders currently operates throughout the state of New Mexico. Within the past year they have expanded into the southern area, beginning to serve communities like Sunland Park, Santa Teresa, Anthony, Chaparral and others that are in closer proximity to the U.S./Mexico border than in the past. With the expansion into Chaparral, NM, TBCS is able to operate out of Otero County and expand their services to include a family service program to the new communities of the south. With this opportunity TBCS is quickly beginning to see firsthand the immigration problems that are being so hotly debated in the political realm. The family services that have become available through TBCS can begin to in cooperate, not just the child, but the entire family system. Because so many of the clients are born in the US, they are able to qualify for Medicaid benefits, as they are typically in the low-socio economic range off the spectrum. However, it is very common to find that the client’s parents are undocumented members of the community. This creates the problem in beginning to incorporate the family system into this much needed service to assist them in linking the family to community resources. This is just one problem to link certain members of a population to services with one agency, but it doesn’t stop there. With undocumented immigrants unable to access basic health coverage, it continues to promote the use of emergency rooms as the first option for medical care. Without the ability to access health care, not only can undocumented immigrants not receive social services similar to the ones provided by TBCS, they are unable to receive preventative medical care that can help eliminate costly emergency room visits that the tax payers of the community end up paying for.
Within the community there is a distinct geographical division between the southern communities and other areas of New Mexico, like Las Cruces. Despite being geographically closer to El Paso there is still an underlined division between the two regions, in regards to the low-socio economic population as opposed to the population in the community that lives above the poverty line. Because there are more resources in El Paso, people come into El Paso to work, shop for goods and services, participate in extracurricular events, and for entertainment. This in return diverts potential economic funds from the southern NM communities and places them in a completely different state. At the same time there are certain resources and needs that must be done within the state of NM, like education, majority of health care needs because of NM coverage, legal proceedings among others. Because of the limitations of the small southern communities, it is necessary for the population to travel forty